Downtown Meadville may lose another landmark business if a buyer for Valenti’s restaurant doesn’t surface soon.

A year-long listing with a real estate agency produced a few looks but no takers on the $219,500 price for the building and family-style Italian restaurant, and owner Nancy Gotto, ill with cancer, doesn’t want to list it again.

It’s not that the restaurant is struggling, she said. Though business had been down in the last few years, “It’s starting to pick up a little bit. There’s a need for the restaurant.” She’s run it for almost 13 years and she’s tired, she said. “I’m not well. I’m not able to be there anymore. I’m just trying to sell everything. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

A close would push many downtown diners to find new haunts, including Dave Roncolato, Allegheny College’s director of community service and service-learning. “I find Valenti’s to be an outstanding choice for business luncheons because the service is quick, the prices are extremely reasonable and it’s big enough to have private conversations. It is my first choice for a work-related lunch. It can draw people from the downtown businesses and it’s close enough that folks from the college can get there and back to campus,” he said.

“I would be really disappointed if Valenti’s closed. I would have to find other opportunities, probably downtown,” he said.

Gotto said an infusion of new ideas would revitalize Valenti’s. “It just needs some young people down there. The bar can be built up. I don’t want to close it. It’s just been so difficult for me. I just can’t work anymore. I really need to sell it. I’m willing to work with people. I’m willing to teach people.”

She and her late husband, Frank, who passed away in 1997, owned local restaurants dating back to the early 1960s, including Gotto’s on Route 322 and Gotto’s Pizza in the Downtown Mall. She later opened Villa Valenti, which she sold a few years ago and is now Peppercorn and Vine. “I’ve been in the business for 50 years now,” she said. “Had he been living, it would be different. He would take care of the front. I was in the kitchen.”

Her parents, Angelo and Elena Valenti, also had a restaurant in town.

Gotto grew up in Meadville. “I felt like Meadville needed that restaurant downtown. Before I put that in, everything was empty there on Chestnut Street.”

Now, “It’s too much for me. We just need someone who likes the food business.”

If it closed, it would be the second Chestnut Street landmark this year to do so. In February, Hunter’s News closed after six decades in operation. That was for lack of business. The city also lost another landmark eatery — Pizza Villa — in August 2005.



Gary Johnson can be reached at 724-6470 or by e-mail at gjohnson@meadvilletribune.com

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